finishing help needed

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Forum topic by indychip posted 12-17-2014 10:58 PM 840 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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79 posts in 2084 days

12-17-2014 10:58 PM

I am finishing up a cherry coffee table. I have put 2 coats of poly on it. The can says to lightly sand with 200 grit after the 2 coats have dried. 200 grit seems to me like it would show scratches. I have also heard that i should use steel wool. What would be best? Thanks for any help

4 replies so far

View Rob's profile


316 posts in 2949 days

#1 posted 12-17-2014 11:09 PM

I’ve used 220 grit sandpaper between coats but that’s way too harsh for a final buffing out of the poly. It will definitely leave scratches. For a final buffing I have used 000 steel wool. It knocks off the little nubbies but you can’t see any scratches. Personally though, I don’t care for traditional steel wool. I use the 000 sanding pads. They don’t leave all those little pieces of steel wool behind. I got mine at Home Depot.

View pjones46's profile


1001 posts in 2605 days

#2 posted 12-17-2014 11:40 PM

“What would be the best?” That is a question that has as many answers as there are members on L J.

Usually I lightly sand between coats with 220 with the grain and then use oil less 0000 steel wool with the grain to remove any scratches. Then tackrag everything. Apply the next coat and after it dries/cures I do the same thing.

At this point I determine if another coat is necessary; if so do the same process all over again. I usually only need two coats.

I sometimes use a buffer with 3M pink auto body finish scratch remover. At this point wipe off with a flannel rag and again with tackrag. The final coat over all of it is a good coat of Staples bowling alley wax and buff.

The finish will have a nice deep satin hue to it that almost glows.

I would suggest you develop your own process and become comfortable with it and you may at some point even considering to upgrade to spraying or trying your hand at Gel finishes.

The secret is you have to be happy with the results… around with some scrape and make samples to develop your process.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View Dave G's profile

Dave G

332 posts in 2011 days

#3 posted 12-17-2014 11:51 PM

Agree about “as many answers as members.”

Do you sharpen your own tools? There’s scary sharp, oil stones, water stones, my God! the list is endless. Same with sharpening finish. It’s all about taking the nubs off and making something for the next layer of poly to stick to. Find something you like, is what I say.

The fact your asking tells me you’re thinking about it and you’ll get it.

Oh, I guess I should try to answer your question. With poly I have used 360, 220, 0000 wool, and lately 600 foam backed. I’ve also applied poly with 0000 wool. And I’ve followed up all those both with and without 0000 and paste wax. They all came out great and I’m not sure I can tell the difference. If you try one and it doesn’t work, you should be able to recover by a finer method. Each coat is slightly better. (Wipe off paste wax with turps.) Enjoy! I don’t think you can go terribly wrong.

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

346 posts in 2425 days

#4 posted 12-18-2014 01:05 AM

After you have your coats on you can level the surface with 220. If the surface has brush marks, you can wet sand 220 up through 600-800, until the surface is dead flat, then rub out the surface to the Sheen you desire- but remember, you want a consistent scratch pattern across the surface through each grit, so make sure sand thoroughly…. If you want satin, wool lube and 0000 steel wool will get you there nicely. Gloss will require finer abrasive rub out, and the make powders to use for this. I never go above Satin, so I’ve never polished to gloss.

If your poly laid down flat, hitting that surface with 800-1000 then onto the steel wool will yield nice results.

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